The name Eastern Ghouta may not be a familiar one, but the neighborhood near the Syrian capital of Damascus is now making international headlines for all the wrong reasons. The enclave of 22 communities happens to be the last opposition-controlled region near the capital, and it's been the target of fierce bombing by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. On Monday, airstrikes and artillery shelling killed about 100 people, including 20 children, reports the AP, citing stats from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the civil defense group known as the White Helmets. The details:
- Assad's strategy: With the civil war now in its seventh year, Assad is looking to reclaim rebel-held territory through "an outright military victory instead of a negotiated settlement," per the Guardian. The bombardment could be paving the way for a ground assault against the two Islamist factions that control the neighborhood of about 350,000 people, reports Gulf News.
- One problem: This is a suburb with no international borders and thus is of little strategic value to world powers, explains the Washington Post. "As a result, there is no power broker such as Turkey, Russia or the United States to deploy ground troops or strike a backroom deal."